Accompanied to the long-distance competition by the Brockenbahn
Perking up one’s ears some kind of connection between the rest day and the first long-distance competition was perceivable: during the rest day several participants had conquered the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz region with 1141 meters, taking the “Brockenbahn”. And that narrow gauge railway toot-hooted in the wind, because it always did that for more than 100 years crawling uphill. Thus it was not too surprising that the first long-distance qualification in the area of Drei Annen Hohne was also accompanied by that characteristic whistling from far away.
But most of the runners who fought for seconds in the woods probably didn’t notice the background noise beside their tunnel vision. But still. At the latest when they reached the picturesque finish area, refilled their carbohydrates reserves and analysed mistakes the participants could now and then hear the distant noise: toot-hooot – toot-hooot!
In the woods dominated by granite rocks everyone gained their very own experiences: “The rocks are beautiful but the greens were very difficult. One had to be quite attentive where to thread” was the opinion of Philippe Page from France who was visibly exhausted. The 49 year- old primarily used that first qualification to “get used to map and terrain” he explained. On the rest day he had visited Goslar: “An extraordinarily beautiful city” he raved.
Meanwhile the Swede Brit Sundby had some problems on her course: “It was difficult because many places in this terrain look alike” she clarified. Her teammate Hans Georg Ronne added “The terrain requires working with the compass very exact. Therefore one is slower than usual.” Especially near the controls utmost caution was advisable “because the controls were invisible from some distance.”
A paradox picture was to be seen at the back of Czech Petra Janovska: a turtle with compass and map was depicted on the backside of her tricot – an animal that is rather not famous for its speediness… Furthermore a little talk between the press and a lost W60 runner took place coincidentally: “Where am I?” she requested in broken German, only to answer the diplomatic reply “Unfortunately I don’t know” with “Of course you do. You simply are not allowed to tell me…”
Apart from that there were no problems – most participants are more than satisfied with the event: “We feel very comfortable here” stressed the Norwegian participant Ronne. Concerning the organisation he was delighted with the “German exactness”. “But that was to be expected” he laughs.
While the last runners approach the finish the Brockenbahn still whistles in the sunny idyll. The steam train with red and beige wagons is a special one. Not only because she formed the background noise for the WMOC – athletes in the woods. But also because its destination is situated 1125 meters above sea level – and therefore the highest steam train station in Germany.